Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion
Iowa law restricts young women's access to abortion.
Is the law enforceable? Yes. A federal trial court held that this law is constitutional. Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, Inc. v. Miller, No. 4-96-CV-10877 (S.D. Iowa Oct. 16, 1997).
Who is considered a minor? A young woman who is under the age of 18 and has never been married.
What is required - parental consent or parental notice? Notice.
Who must be notified? One parent.
Are there other trusted adults who may be notified instead? Yes, a grandparent, but the grandparent may be subject to a civil lawsuit if s/he accepts notification.
What is the process for providing notification? A young woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 48 hours after written notice is provided in person or by certified mail by the attending physician to a parent or grandparent. The 48-hour period begins to run at noon on the next day on which regular mail delivery takes place. Parental notice is not required if the parent authorizes the abortion in writing. If the minor notifies a grandparent in lieu of a parent, the minor must submit in writing to a physician her reason for not notifying a parent as well as her reason for notifying a grandparent. In addition, the notice form must state that grandparents may be subject to civil action if they accept notification and that they may refuse to accept notification.
May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest? Yes, if the young woman declares that she is a victim of reported sexual abuse.
May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse? Yes, if the young woman declares that she is a victim of child abuse and such abuse has been reported or that the parent is named in a report of child abuse.
May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman's health is threatened? Yes, but only if the attending physician certifies in writing that a medical emergency exists. A medical emergency is defined as a medical condition of the pregnant woman that necessitates an immediate abortion to preserve her life or for which a delay will create a "risk of serious impairment of a major bodily function."
May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances? Yes, the young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.
If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process? She must secure a court order stating either that she is mature and capable of giving informed consent or that parental notice is not in her best interests.
Are there other significant requirements under the law? Yes. Before providing abortion care to a young woman, a physician must offer, and obtain written certification that she has been offered, written decision-making materials, including a workbook and a video presentation that includes information about her options, including continuing the pregnancy to term and retaining parental rights, adoption, and abortion. The video must explain that public and private agencies are available to assist the young woman with any alternative chosen and that the "father" is liable for child support. The written decision-making materials must include information about the options described in the video including the agencies and programs available to provide assistance to the young woman in parenting a child, information on adoption and abortion, information regarding the "father's" liability for child support, and other support options. To the extent possible and at the discretion of the young woman, the person "responsible for impregnating" her must be present for the viewing of the video and the receiving of the written decision-making materials. In addition, the young woman is to be encouraged to choose a responsible adult also to be present.
Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law? Yes. A court denied both a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, allowing the law to remain in effect. Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, Inc. v. Miller, No. 4-96-CV-10877 (S.D. Iowa Oct. 16, 1997).
Other information about the law: None.Iowa Code Ann. §§ 135L.1, .6 to .8 (Enacted 1996; Last Amended 1997), 135L.2, .3 (Enacted 1996; Last Amended 1998).